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Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 27 Jun 1996

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (27 Jun. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435825
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Back Cover

At once a classic of travel literature and a penetrating portrait of a sensibility on tour, Flaubert in Egypt wonderfully captures the young writer's impressions during his 1849 voyage to the "Orient". Using diaries, letters, travel notes, and the evidence of Flaubert's traveling companion Maxime Du Camp, Francis Steegmuller reconstructs this formative journey - through the bazaars and brothels of Cairo, down the length of the Nile, to the fabled Red Sea.

About the Author

Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen in 1821, the son of a prominent physician. The success of Madame Bovary (1857) was ensured by government prosecution for "immorality"; Salammbô (1862) and The Sentimental Education (1869) received a cool public reception; not until the publication of Three Tales (1877) was his genius popularly acknowledged. His final bitterness and disillusion were vividly evidenced in the savagely satiric Bouvard and Pécuchet, left unfinished at his death in 1880.


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By A Customer on 5 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
This compendium of Flaubert's notes and letters from his excursion to Egypt is an absolute delight to read. Starting in October 1849 and lasting for about a year, Flaubert and his friend Maxime du Camp toured what are now the major tourist sites of the Ancient Egyptian civilisation as well as contemporary mid-nineteenth-century Egypt - including Cairo, Luxor, and Giza.

In this volume are selected pieces from Flaubert's travel notes, his letters of reassurance to his over-protective mother, and Flaubert's graphic and fantastically open letters to his friend Louis Bouilhet. Aged 28 when he set out on the trip, Flaubert spent his time taking in the "blatant tones that would make any painter fade away" and thinking about "literature: [his] sweet and never-ending obsession." Also included are some of Du Camp's 'journalistic' impressions of the near East, as well as some of his photographs he took (including the first ever photograph of the partly submerged Sphinx).

On his return to France, Flaubert spent the next five years working on what became Madame Bovary, and given the vast importance of that work (Flaubert was the favourite author of Proust, Joyce and Kafka), these travel notes present a fascinating insight into what at the time was his somewhat unfocused mind looking for direction as to what type of novel he should write. Salammbo, the novel that Flaubert published after Madame Bovary and set in the revolt of the mercenaries at Carthage in 133BC, was also framed through his experiences in the near-East.

So if you add up the historical importance to literature, the golden prose of Flaubert, the photographic importance of their journey, and the sheer delight of an un-Westernised Egypt, it is perhaps a book that should be sitting on more book cases than I suspect it currently does.
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i read Madame Bovary, and Trois Contes along with all the rest of the literature you associate with 'A level' French many years ago. It seemed stilted and formal at the time, so was a pleasure to be drawn into the 'bellyful of colours' and contrasts of the world that really excited the twenty eight year old Flaubert in the 1850's. The frank and matter of fact retelling of his sexual adventures for example, (and their uncomfortable consequence), so much in comparison with the stifling hypocritical european sexual morality of his time. The Notes are written from a time before - well, before just about everything we take for granted, but they are still fresh and often amusing even if they are 'low form of literature'. Flaubert's detailed observations on the lost world of ancient kingdoms, daily events , meetings and reflections and those flashes of extraordinary sensitivity elevate the telling (how many authors would bother to make a note of the moment when a driver of a camel reaches down to pick up something or touch the hand of somebody on the ground, because it struck him as somehow special and sublime).

I found myself reading more slowly towards the end of the book - wanting to drag out the pleasure of engaging with Flaubert's daily adventures and his intense experiences and descriptions. Anybody with a deep interest in 'literary expression' rather than just 'writing', and anybody interested in Egypt and archeology will find the journeys and the narrative a fascination. Here is travel in the way of the old world, witnessing traditions and behaviour that will not be seen again. Technology and mechanisation, 'civilisation', a wealthier world, access and discovery have taken away the 'romance' (and much of the brutality) for ever.
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Format: Paperback
The sweet naivety in the experience of a journey on a historic moment that will not be repeated. This work shows an extraordinary romantic sensibility. The scene of the first contact "in loco" with the Sphinx is extraordinary and a good example.
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Format: Paperback
Flaubert opens a window on mid-19C Egypt.

A very accessible book, created from a collection of letters and journals from his trip. Flaubert's descriptive skills add a further dimension to this historic travel book.

You can't put this one down.
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